Arata Kokonoe and Toji Hisami – also known as ‘Nine’ and ‘Twelve’ respectively – appear to be ordinary highschool boys who have just started at a new school. However, they seem to be something more like terrorists – after we see them infiltrate some kind of facility in Aomori with a truck and some grenades, they upload a cryptic ‘warning’ video to youtube. Shortly after, they orchestrate an explosion in a tall building in Tokyo.
Only one part of the proceedings don’t go to plan – Lisa Mishima, their classmate and a victim of bullying, ends up caught up in the whole mess. Eventually, she agrees to becoming the two’s accomplice…
Well, wow. It’s hard to not get excited about an anime that has Shinichiro Watanabe and Yoko Kanno in the credits, and with its first episode Zankyou no Terror (or ‘Terror in Resonance’ but apparently also called ‘Terror in Tokyo’) is exactly the kind of high quality you’d expect. It’s one of those rare anime where even when you have literally no idea what is happening or why, it’s engaging and definitely inviting.
Our two lead boys are both as mysterious as eachother, but rather than feeling instantly alienated as I often do with main characters who are left too vague to begin with, I’m intrigued and want to know all about them. What are they trying to accomplish, and what was the facility they attacked? (Furthermore, was that sequence a flashback or a flashforward?) Who are the children they referred to who died when they lived – implying an escape of some kind? Why is Toji’s smile so unsettling after a while? Zankyou no Terror doesn’t give us too many hints in its first episode but I think it did a great job of hooking me in to want to know the answers. It also helps I guess that these two boys arent our only characters – there’s more of a layman’s view from Lisa, the bullied girl. As Skins stated in one of her reviews, bullying can be very difficult to watch in anime for a lot of people, myself included, and especially with the realistic way it was depicted here. Especially painful was seeing Lisa eat her lunch in the toilet cubicle in order to hide…or at least attempt to, because she promptly flushed it after being text-bothered by her mother. There’s something very serious going on in regards to her home life, particularly her mother, but again – this first episode is more concerned with presenting us with hooks than divulging any answers too quickly.
As expected, the show looks incredible. It’s not just that the characters are backgrounds and animation is high quality, there’s also a lot of attention to mood and lighting. This is a show with a budget behind it that it’s not afraid to show of, and I really hope it manages to look this good all the way through. With Yoko Kanno doing the music, I probably don’t even need to say that it sounds fantastic as well.
This could be one of the best shows of the season and yet it’s still hard to say exactly why it’s good, but its the most intriguing and best-looking of all the episodes I’ve watched this so far. I’d like to give it another episode or so to get a better feel for it, but it’s definitely on my shortlist for the second series I want to blog this season.